A Letter from our Executive Director, Cait Cassée
We are so thrilled to announce that our Executive Director, Cait Cassée has agreed to make her solo-directing debut with our March show, Inside Frampton and the Outside World.
Here's what she has to say!
After a stint on stage as a flying monkey, tapping out “Put On a Happy Face”, a smidge of “Swan Lake”, and some piano recitals, I had my first straight-up acting gig for the San Anselmo Parks & Rec production of Guys and Dolls when I was 11 or so. I was cast as - and worked earnestly to portray - both a Hat Box Dancer (think Can-Can girl) and General Matilda B. Cartwright, the head of the Salvation Army. It may be that the casting directors sensed my innate ambivalence, but I prefer to think that they simply recognized my range.
It was quite a range, and falling personally somewhere in the middle of it, as I did, I had to work hard to not bat my eyelashes seductively at my Salvation Army troops nor look uncomfortable in my short shorts and straw hat during “Bushel and a Peck”. Being rather tom-boyish at the time, both were a stretch for me.
Like me, Whidbey Children’s Theater falls somewhere in-between. Neither Parks & Rec nor Broadway, WCT has a beloved after-school theater program as well as a responsibility to bridge the theater education gap.
Five years ago my daughter, Miranda, needed a lifeline. Already in love with all things WCT, she signed up to be in the first Pacific Northwest performance of the award winning Inside Frampton and the Outside World and her world changed. Frampton, written by Susannah Rose Woods, is a heart-warming, endearing story full of characters we can all relate to. It’s about finding out who you are, learning to trust yourself, and look beyond image and appearance to find the true friends around you. It was a magnificent, life changing experience for my daughter then, and it is with so much joy and anticipation that I take it on this season as my first solo-directing gig for Whidbey Children’s Theater.
There is no question that both this play, and its author - WCT’s original Frampton director in 2011, Rose Woods - have played an enormous role in my life and my family. As has this theater. I am excited beyond words to get to work with the amazing talents of Rod Stewart (Tech Director), Kathryn Morgen (Set Designer), Melanie Lowey (Musical Director), Jody Harrison (Costume Designer), the incredible cast already assembling, and my own Miranda, back this time as Stage Manager, my right hand.
Inside Frampton and the Outside World is NOW REGISTERING youth actors Grades 6 - 8. Rehearsals begin in January and performances run March 11 - 20, 2016. For information or to register online, CLICK HERE.
We talk a lot about how Whidbey Children’s Theater changes kids’ lives, how it gives them a home away from home, a place to feel like they belong. And, it does. My kid is living proof. Bullied out of middle school, Grace found her tribe here at WCT, and in the process found her passion. We are incredibly grateful.
The thing is, I found my tribe here, too.
When we moved to the Island five years ago, the kids had the built-in social scene of school to introduce them to new friends and activities. But, for me, I felt my newbie status acutely. This place is small, and insular, and for the first couple years I felt like the only friends I had were the ones I paid to spend time with me: my hair cutter, my massage therapist, my gardener, my handyman.
So, when my daughter Grace found herself in the cast of The Little Mermaid a couple summers ago, I found myself standing in a lobby full of parents whom I didn’t know. And, like any group of grown ups who know each other, there was a camaraderie and familiarity that felt clubby and warm. I stood there feeling self-conscious, an outsider yet again, when an amazing thing happened. I was welcomed into the fold. Granted, it was in the form of a volunteer request, but still. I was seen, I was accepted, and after a couple stints as an usher, I was known.
What I found when I began volunteering were a bunch of parents with wacky kids like mine: kids that didn’t fit the assigned molds, that were bigger than life, or finding their voice and confidence on stage. These were my people! Parents who saw and celebrated these wild, wonderful children. Parents who did their best, got discouraged, but kept showing up. Parents who welcomed each other and each other’s kids into their lives. A community. A tribe.
Fast forward—through a few more shows and a lot more volunteering—and I have truly found my home away from home, helping WCT stay financially healthy as their Fund Development Coordinator. I get to combine my professional skills with my commitment to the theater. I get to help guarantee, that even after my daughter is launched into adulthood, WCT will still be around helping kids find their voice and their tribe. But, best of all, I get to spend even more time with these people I love, who have become not just friends, but family.
Penny Webb is a full-time mom, a some-time musician, a part-time writer, a fair-weather gardener, and an all-the-time cheerleader for WCT. She enjoys romantic walks on the beach, back rubs by the fire, and piña coladas. In theory anyway, since her whole life revolves around her children, who she thinks are the coolest people on the planet.